This paper describes an alternative approach to the rules-of-thumb based design of metal stampings. The design for manufacturing system (DFM) presented here highlights those manufacturing-related features that significantly increase cost so that designers can minimize difficult to produce features. The DFM system is not dependent on the creation of a geometric model, and can be used to qualitatively and quantitatively assess a preliminary concept sketch. The system focuses on stampings produced by ‘hard tooling’ and is based on expertise gained from stampers who produce parts for the office automation, computer, electromechanical and small consumer appliance industries. The application of the system to a real-life part is illustrated.